Time to Declare Peace in the Digital Currency Space

With Venezuela’s inflation reaching new heights, negative interest rates across Europe, Fintech passing the tipping point in China, blockchain based tech estimated to pass the tipping point in about five years, there are many opportunities and threats for Bitcoin, Ethereum and other public blockchains.

Currently, both communities, but primarily Bitcoin, which remains deeply divided, are engaged in an argument that cannot end for, at least, a decade, as the two sides have fundamentally different visions that cannot be reconciled.

After more than a year of heated debate which has now descended into vitriolic and toxic noise from both sides, it is time to recognize a substantial number of bitcoiners hold different visions and, therefore, must part their own way.

A Tale of Two Worlds

It is for history to say which path is right. At this point in time, no one can conclusively prove one vision or the other is best. In absence of such conclusive evidence, it is only natural that different weights are placed on trade-offs that bitcoin has to make by different people.

As Gregory Maxwell stated early on in the debate, we need to recognize that there are trade-offs. I would add, we need to recognize that two communities have formed who passionately and genuinely hold fundamentally different visions arising from a difference of weight placed on those trade-offs.

Nakamoto had a vision of on-chain scaling to Visa levels with nodes operating on server farms across the world and jurisdictions. The first response to this vision was an alternative; the creation of hierarchical layers on top of bitcoin’s base. This has been extended to include sidechains, creating competing chains, but with the difference that they all circle around bitcoin, the currency. There are many things to be said about both visions as has now been said for more than a year, but, as no one is right nor wrong, no one is likely to be persuaded by any further words.

The continuation of this debate for so long clearly shows that these beliefs are  strongly and passionately genuinely held by both sides. Therefore, in my view, nothing can be gained from continuation of animosities – except for wasted time and resources at the expense of all else leading to nothing getting done on both ends. We should, thus, declare peace.

Co-operation Trumps Endless Bickering

There is a reason humans have evolved to co-operate. While there may be differences of opinion, fundamentally, whether Bitcoin Core, Bitcoin Classic, Bitcoin Unlimited, Ethereum or ETC, we all share an interest in this new invention and its advancement to improve the world.

The attacking of our own is not a gain for the attacker, but a loss to the whole space as we show to the world that we are dysfunctional and irrational, wasting our time endlessly talking instead of focusing our minds on building things. This constant vitriol has taken a toll on the entire space, with not one interesting bitcoin app launched in more than a year and a half. Emotionally, it has drained many people as everyone and anyone is constantly under fire. It has led to a bitcoin ecosystem which is currently in a state of paralysis where the same old topics are hashed and re-hashed at no gain to anyone.

Look around you. What I see is a metaphorical war field

This destruction is harmful to both sides and the entire space as outsiders look in disgust and hurl insults of cult, religion, sects. No one gains from it within this space, therefore it is time for both sides to end it and declare peace.

I wrote an editorial back in March calling for truce in bitcoin’s land and there was, at the time, a calming of the seas, but passions quickly ignited once more for it seems to me that there are a substantial number of bitcoiners who in a grassroots manner simply cannot stand the current path of bitcoin. Though many have been sidelined or left, the grassroots pay no heed. Though many calls have been made to calm down the rhetorics, the anger seems to be far too great.

Ethereum’s Lessons

The divide in Ethereum’s community is of a different nature and in many ways more fundamental. The vast majority, as now conclusively proven by price itself which currently stands at around 90% of the price of Ethereum + ETC, take the view that a theft was committed, while ETC proponents, which according to the current price account for around 10% of ethereum’s community, take the view that no theft was actually committed.

This divide transcends any Bitcoin Core or Bitcoin Classic divide. I’m not aware of any of the former supporting Ethereum, but I am aware of many of the latter known to be very vocally in support of bigger blocks actively supporting ETC.

Ethereum’s community is now trying to quickly move on and leave the judgment to the market. That is possible because, in many ways, one can say that the two do not directly compete so both having their own niche with some suggesting that Ethereum could address mainstream businesses while ETC could cater to illegal applications. There is a risk that outsiders could brush both with the same stroke, but it is for Ethereum’s community to make everyone aware that they can self-govern and therefore no outside intervention is necessary at this point, saving them, perhaps, from some draconian measures taken against bitcoin, such as classifying it as commodity for tax purposes which leads to double taxation, the bitlicense debacle, and more recently, a database of bitcoin users.

Free Market Rule for All

I am sure the many developers of Ethereum could have come up with a way to make the existence of ETC technically impossible, but doing so would have left a number of individuals who passionately hold certain beliefs to feel threatened, leading to constant passionate anger as we have seen on r/btc, gaining the sympathy of many due to individuals or users being recognized as long standing members of the community, thus, not easily dismissible in their views.

The price of Ethereum has been remarkably stable during the entire event with many arguing that Ethereum holders are actually richer even after Poloniex’s listing as the combined market cap is higher. Problems have, however, been caused by relay attacks, but absence time constraints such problems are easily resolvable on a technical level prior to a fork.

The benefits of the end result, in my view, are far higher than any short term problem. The two communities can now go their own direction, lacking any reason to constantly argue, leaving the ecosystem free to move on and build things with the judgment of who was right necessarily left to history and the free market.

Bitcoin’s Options

In my view, bitcoiners against Bitcoin Core’s vision should move to Ethereum, ETC, or fork to Bitcoin Classic or Bitcoin Unlimited. Any of them would, in my view, be better than the draining of time, energy and resources we have seen for more than a year with no indication of it ending. Gregory Maxwell, for example, spends so much time arguing on reddit when he could be building things not just for bitcoin, but the entire space. Moreover, developers like Andresen and Garzik are not even contributing to the space any longer, a space that is deeply in shortage of skill, especially, at the level of the two. This is a waste of resources for no real reason and a loss to the entire ecosystem as both sides can co-exist.

Let freedom reign and peace resume the throne. Let the market compete on its own. Let history rule who was right and who wrong.

The only way the two sides can be reconciled at this point is by co-operation while each builds on their own. As far as all participants in the current market are concerned, their funds are valid on either branch, but are likely, in combination, to become more valuable, as a bitter war ends and free market-based peace resumes its reign. There is, therefore, no loss and much to gain.

As such, there cannot be one ring to rule them all nor one chain to enslave all men. The two communities must go their own way if we are to have peace in this space.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article are solely that of the author and do not represent those of, nor should they be attributed to CCN.

Featured image from Shutterstock.